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Trail of Two Forests Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Climbing down into the tree mold tunnel (bobcat)
The boardwalk (bobcat)
Vine maple over a tree mold (bobcat)
The little nature trail loop (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Trail of Two Forests TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Tree Mold Tunnel
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 0.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 30 feet
  • High Point: 1,895 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: all year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Sometimes



This short interpretive trail can be done in conjunction with the Ape Cave Hike. The trail highlights the tree molds formed when the same lava flow that formed Ape Cave flowed through an old growth forest and incinerated the trees. The "two forests" are, of course, the vestiges of the woodland consumed by the lava flow and the forest that has since established itself in the same spot.

The trail is almost entirely a boardwalk as it passes over the moss-covered 2,000-year-old lava flow in an emerald woodland of western red-cedar, Douglas-fir, and western hemlock with an understory of vine maple, salal, and bear-grass. At the junction, go left to do the loop clockwise. Interpretive signs along the way explain the volcanics and tree mold formations. Some tree molds are vertical, i.e. the trees were still standing, and some are horizontal. You can climb down a ladder into a large vertical mold and crawl along two other horizontal molds. There are also some small collapsed lava tubes in the vicinity.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required


  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount St. Helens, WA #364
  • Green Trails Maps: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA #332S
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument & Administrative Area
  • National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map: Mount St. Helens - Mt. Adams

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking: Mount St. Helens by Craig Romano & Aaron Theisen
  • Best Short Hikes in Washington's South Cascades & Olympics by E.M. Sterling & Ira Spring
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington by Susan Elderkin
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades by Joan Burton
  • Day Hiking: South Cascades by Dan A. Nelson and Alan L. Bauer
  • Washington's South Cascades' Volcanic Landscapes by Marge and Ted Mueller
  • 95 Virtual Hikes of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by Northwest Hiker
  • Washington's Columbia River Gorge: Camping & Hiking by Tom Stienstra & Scott Leonard
  • Washington Hikes by Scott Leonard
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Megan McMorris

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.